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Why is it so hard to run easy?

Hello and happy Wednesday!

I wanted to share today one of my biggest challenges in running and training:  running easy.  If you have ever followed a training plan for a race you know that several of the days are intended to be “easy runs” to allow your body to recover from harder workouts and build your aerobic base.  

When I first started running long distance back in college most of my runs were about the same pace, which over time became progressively faster and thus very motivating to keep pushing myself.  But over the past year or so, I started incorporating speed drills and more challenging workouts into my training.  While this has resulted in some great results (hello BQ!) it has also made me much more competitive with myself.  I find that even on “easy days” I get disappointed if my pace seems too slow.  I am also someone who struggles with the comparison trap and it can be tough to “run easy” when you see friends or fellow runners logging runs that seem “better” than yours.

I have been reading a lot lately about different training plans and one of the core principles that keeps coming up is that a larger percentage of your training should be easy running.  Running coach Matt Fitzgerald describes the 80/20 rule, where 80 percent of your training should be easy running.  You can check out his book here and reach about this principle on Runner’s World here.  

If I look back at my Strava training I realize that I am definitely working too hard on my easy days.  In fact, this week I am supposed to be tapering for my half Sunday and my Tuesday run felt really hard.  The past week when I ramped up my weekly  mileage I was also frustrated that I wasn’t hitting my pace times and then realized that my body is probably telling me it needs more rest.

https://www.strava.com/activities/529705903/embed/0804676dff9f972b787994d5e165f4835956f981“>Tuesday 6 Miler

So…long story short, one of the goals I plan to work on as I go into my few weeks of training before the Run to Remember Half Marathon is to take running easy seriously!  It is easy for me to forget that running is something I plan to make a part of my life for the long term, so setting fast paces for little training runs is not the goal.  I’m working to live more by the motto:

im-doing-me

Have you struggled with “running easy”?  What are your tips for listening to your body during a training cycle?

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